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India’s exports of basmati rice to Belgium and Netherlands soar


KOLKATA: In the midst of the farmers’ agitation, South Asians in Belgium and the Netherlands are stocking up on basmati rice from India, benefitting growers in Punjab and Haryana.

India’s exports of basmati rice to Belgium have increased 60% in the first eight months of the current financial year, while imports by the Netherlands have almost doubled.

Rising demand for basmati rice in these European countries has resulted in a better price realisation for farmers, mainly from the basmati rice-growing areas in Punjab and Haryana. The common variety of basmati rice, 1121 Pusa, which is mostly exported, has been fetching a 15% higher price at the farmgate from November.

In Europe, consumers are drawn towards aromatic basmati rice for traditional dishes such as sushi, risotto or paella.

“Europe is a big market for us. This year, due to the ongoing pandemic, there has been a lot of panic buying by the European market,” Gurnam Arora, joint managing director at Kohinoor Foods, told ET. “South East Asian people residing in these countries have bought good quantities of basmati rice for home consumption.”

With fears in Europe that the spread of the new strain of the coronavirus will result in another lockdown, customers are stocking up on basmati rice

“This is benefitting the farmers of Punjab and Haryana as we are giving them higher prices,” Arora said.

Gautam Miglani, owner of Haryana-based LRNK, a leading exporter of basmati rice, said Europe has emerged as a major market as exports to Iran slowed down. In the first eight months of FY21, exports to Iran fell 16%.

“Payments from Iran against basmati rice consignments are yet to come. According to industry people, nearly Rs 1,500 crore payment is due from Iranian importers,” said Vinod Kaul, executive director of the All India Rice Exporters Association.

India’s basmati rice exports climbed 29% to 3.05 million metric tonnes in the first eight months of this financial year. Kaul said Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Iraq have bought good quantities of rice.

India produced 7.5 million tonnes of basmati in In 2019-20, of which 61% was exported, earning the country Rs 31,025 crore, according to the commerce and industry ministry.

“There should be a benchmark in price that farmers should be paid so that they do not fall prey to middlemen,” said Vijay Setia, former president of AIREA, commenting on the realisation for farmers on the back of rising exports.

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